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More Americans STARVING! Empty More Americans STARVING!

Post by Pied Piper on Wed Aug 22, 2012 11:46 pm

More Americans Are STARVING!
Cheryl Preston knows that others are worse off. But she's still hungry.

As grocery prices creep higher
and her income sags, rationing her family's food is a daily task. The
54-year-old mother of three and grandmother of three in Roanoke, Va.,
says there are days she skips meals so her husband and son can eat. If
they notice, she says, she'll let them think she's fasting. She waters
down the milk and juice to make it last longer. She visits food
pantries, but it's not enough.

"Who would think that in the land of plenty, hard-working families would go hungry? But I am living proof it is true," Preston writes.

In the last three years, she
hasn't been able to replace a $500 loss in monthly income. Her husband's
job can't always guarantee 40 hours a week; his second job lasted only
through Christmas. So mealtime suffers: Her family eats in one day what
they used to eat at one meal. Often, they manage on a nearly barren
cupboard for five or six days until the next pay day. They sometimes
skip family gatherings at restaurants because they can't pay the tab.

"It is distressing," Preston writes.

"When you get a check for $250,
and your basic needs require at least $400, you are already defeated.
You can only cut back so much and then you have no choice but to do
without. I long for the days when I could pay my bills on time, buy more
than enough groceries and have money left over."

She's not alone. Eighteen percent
of Americans say there have been times this year that they couldn't
afford the food they needed, according to a Gallup poll released Tuesday.
In particularly hard-hit regions of the United States, like the South,
at least one in five didn't have enough money for food. In Preston's
Virginia, 15.2 percent of state residents are affected.

To put a face on hunger in
America, Yahoo! asked readers and contributors to share their personal
stories: Are they going hungry? How are they coping with higher food
prices? Did they ever think they'd be in this position? Here are more
personal stories shared with Yahoo! News this week.

Six years ago, Robert Watkins and his wife earned
more than $100,000 combined. Groceries comprised 5 percent of their
budget. They kept an emergency fund--good for three months' expenses--in
a money market. Now, Watkins writes, they keep a "rainy day" jar of
about $250 in assorted change by the bedside.

"If I had to travel to the market
and buy groceries for dinner tonight, would I have the money to do so?
The truth is, yes, I would," Watkins writes.
"Yet it's strange to think that this is life in America today. Like
tens of millions of other people in the United States, we look closely
at an expenditure that we took for granted just a few years ago--the
cost of food."

Seventeen months ago, Watkins was
downsized from his job and while he works contractually and part-time,
his income "pales in comparison" to two years ago. Couple their
one-income family with inflated food prices, and their grocery budget is
almost 10 percent of their net income.

At 46, he says "it's a humbling exercise."

To make due, they've taken
advantage of living in a farming community in Lancaster, Pa. Fruits and
veggies are affordable; there's plenty of corn on the cob, red potatoes,
lettuce, and tomatoes. They create their own dressing and get water
from a well. And they eat lots of pasta.

"Is it scary sometimes? You bet it is," Watkins writes. "However, it could always be a whole lot worse."

In Arizona, Jeremy Shapiro lives on a nutrition assistance program, receiving $50 a week for food. It's significantly altered his eating habits: less food, less often.

"I have reduced my portion sizes and meal frequency," he writes. "Creativity and flexibility is key."

Shaprio, 35, says he has always tried to eat healthy. When he was
employed and food prices were more reasonable, it was easy. Now it's
tricky with less money.

"I only shop sales. I hunt for online and paper ads and cut coupons. I
also do not stock food unless it's extremely fiscally prudent," Shaprio
writes.

That means no more fresh fruit; canned and concentrate must suffice.
Only frozen chicken, beef and fish are affordable. Brand-name cereals
are out. Milk must be on sale, and hormone-free varieties aren't
"financially feasible." Generics and store brands have replaced
Tillamook cheese, Boar's Head meats and Laura Scudder's peanut butter.

"One day, I will have gainful employment and afford more and better
again," Shapiro writes. "However for today, I keep my head up and
spirits high -- and body healthy -- as best I can."

Here's a taste of Tom Servo's bare-bones grocery list: A
few bags of dried beans. Breakfast cereal of some kind -- usually
whatever's on sale. A large canister of dried oats. Lots of bananas --
typically a few pounds. A bag of apples. Other miscellaneous fresh
fruits and veggies -- whatever's in season and on sale.

The 29-year-old college student in Tampa, Fla., says his grocery list
is written for nutrition, not taste. He sticks to bare essentials and
buys in bulk. But two weeks of groceries used to cost him $50; now it's
almost $100.

For example: "I used to pay 99 cents for one pound of dried black
beans; now they cost $1.49 or more. Two years ago I paid $2.39 for a
16-ounce jar of generic peanut butter; now the same peanut butter costs
$3.99."

"For the first time in my life, I've recently had to make a choice between groceries or some other expense".

Michelle Zanatta once spoiled her husband with her
elaborate Italian meals of fresh vegetables and heaps of garlic bread.
They were expensive, too: Her four-cheese lasagna cost $18 to make. The
Italian ham and cheese rolls set them back $20.

But after her once-successful business started failing and their home
went into foreclosure, she faced the reality of food prices. She and
her husband are also dealing with higher food costs in Atlanta after a
move from Delaware. ("The cost of a fresh-baked loaf of Italian bread
was 98 cents from the local Wal-Mart, while here in Georgia, it's a
$1.49 -- plus food tax!")

"I at no time thought about how much money I spent grocery shopping, until we had to set a very tight budget," she writes.
"I was also never a huge fan of couponing because I thought it was
time-consuming; however, at 34, my perspective on coupons has changed
greatly."

Her family visits local food banks and shaves costs off milk, eggs, cereal and cheese through a WIC program.

"Though times seem tough, and my
lavish meals have dwindled down to two times a month, my children
learned to appreciate those special meals," Zanatta writes, "and I have
learned to use my resources and shop smartly."

When she worked as a Wal-Mart cashier,
Michelle Croy remembers watching seniors decide between buying food and buying medicine.

"Their medicine often ranked first so that meant that Vienna sausages and crackers sufficed for the month for sustenance,". "I never really entertained the thought that someday that would be me."

The single mother in Huntington, W.V., says she is shocked she must
scramble to pay bills and feed her children. Milk runs upward of $4 a
gallon, and a pack of hamburger costs $9. "This is why my family settles
with a banana or cereal for breakfast, skips lunches entirely, eats a
dinner that is produced almost entirely from our garden, and hardly ever
eats out."

Croy, now a student teacher in Huntington ("where jobs are as scarce
as rain in the Sahara"), writes that while groceries trump other needs
and wants, they could be in worse shape.

"My case is nowhere near as
disheartening as those of the children who go to bed hungry every night,
or the families who survive solely on donations from food banks," she
writes, "but it's indicative of the reality that most of us middle-class
Americans face: We are all just one paycheck away from going hungry or
living homeless out on the streets.
One in Four Mississippi Residents Struggle to Afford Food

North Dakota has lowest percentage of residents unable to afford food
by Alyssa Brown
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- One in four Mississippi residents report there
was at least one time in the past 12 months when they did not have
enough money to buy the food they or their families needed -- more than
in any other state in the first half of 2012. Residents in Alabama and
Delaware are also among the most likely to struggle to afford food.
Residents of North Dakota, South Dakota, and Vermont are among the least
likely to have this problem.

More Americans STARVING! 8hgwyyj-we-qt_xtawptow More Americans STARVING! Kv9tuwuqau2df2eycejxog

These findings are from surveys conducted with 177,662 U.S. adults
from January through June 2012 as part of the Gallup-Healthways
Well-Being Index. Gallup asks 1,000 Americans each day if there have
been times in the past 12 months when they did not have enough money to
buy food that they or their families needed.

In 15 states, at least one in five Americans say they struggled to
afford the food they needed at least once during the past 12 months.
Nationwide, 18.2% of Americans so far in 2012 say there have been times
when they could not afford the food they needed, on par with the 18.6%
who had trouble affording food in 2011.

Residents of states in the Southeast and Southwest regions are the
most likely in the country to struggle to afford food. Those living in
the Mountain Plains and Midwest regions are the least likely to
experience food hardship.

Implications

There are wide disparities across states and regions so far in 2012
in the percentage of residents who at times lacked the money to purchase
the food they or their families needed. While nearly one in four
Mississippi residents say they could not afford to buy the food they
needed in the past 12 months, only one in 10 North Dakota residents say
the same.

In 2012, the worst drought since the 1950s has affected nearly 80% of
agricultural land in the United States, which may drive up the cost of
food in the months ahead. While Americans are no more likely to struggle
to afford food thus far in 2012 than in the past, more residents may
face problems as the drought-related crop damage results in a shortage
of inputs in the food supply and begins to affect retail prices.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture predicts that consumers will
notice price increases within two months for beef, pork, poultry, and
dairy, but the full effects of the increase in corn prices for packaged
and processed foods will likely take 10 to 12 months to appear on
supermarket shelves. States in the Mountain Plains and Midwest regions,
which have the largest corn yield in the nation, will likely continue to
have the lowest percentages of residents who lack enough money to buy
food. Those in the South will likely be hardest hit, as they are already
the most likely in the nation to report struggling to afford food.
Pied Piper
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